Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Living it up in Lima

Lima, Peru.  It wasn't love at first sight, but the city definitely grew on me.  When we planned our trip to Peru, we decided to go to Cusco and the Sacred Valley first, and then end in Lima, the capital of Peru.  I figured that being in a metropolitan area would be a nice treat after all of our hiking and wandering in the parts of the country with less modern conveniences, but we found ourselves nostalgic for those places when we arrived in bustling Lima on a grey, smoggy afternoon.  We were sort of in denial that we had just been in pleasant, quiet old Urubamba just that morning and here we were, suddenly wrapped up in fumes, pedestrians, honking cars, and skyscrapers.  Lima is the third-largest city in the Americas.  At first, it was funny to be sarcastic about it all (Why's that dog on a leash? Why are they advertising bottled chicha?  Why are they selling sweaters in storefronts?), but soon it got to be sapping and I found myself regretful of our decision to leave Urubamba.  Wes reminded me that I didn't really know what to think of Urubamba at first either, but ended up loving it.  He also reminded me to think back to that first night when we laid over in Lima briefly before flying to Cusco.  It truly was all so fresh and exciting at that time, and we had been looking forward to coming back to check out what else this big city had to offer.

As I am sitting here in front of my computer a couple of years later, I look back on these photos and think about how wonderful the days we spent here were.  All things considered, Lima treated us so well, and I would be super happy to relive any one of those days there.  No, we weren't amongst ancient ruins or hiking in the jungle, but we got to eat food that was unique to Lima, we got to explore a UNESCO World Heritage site, we got to meet Chinese immigrants living here, we got to see what urban street art looked like, and we got to see sharply contrasting parts of the same country.  For example, our only choice of transportation in Urubamba was a rickety moto-taxi (or simply walking), whereas we were able to whip out our Smartphones and call an Uber in Lima.  I really value ending our trip in Lima now, and getting the chance to reflect on these things, and to think about how our lives in Los Angeles differed from what is considered modern in Lima.  We also unexpectedly glimpsed the striking similarities between the Peruvians of Chinese descent and our parents' generation in the United States, as first-generation immigrants.  These experiences in Lima, no matter how fleeting they seemed when they were happening, widened my world view.  Essentially, no travel experience can be taken for granted or underestimated, no matter how unglamorous.

Now, let me stop being all serious and get into all of the wonderful things about Lima that we loved and still remember well!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Dear Apartment, We'll Miss You

This was the photo of us that we used on our initial offer letter to the seller of our new house.  Wes dug it up from one of our Fourth of July family barbecues that we hosted, a Wong/Chiu family tradition that we started right here in our apartment.  We thought that this picture, if not a little silly, captured us for who we were, and showed the seller that we would use and love the house well.  I think it worked!

Now with the big move (and major "adulting") on the horizon, it is with a bittersweet sentiment that I write this ode to our first home.  With every change comes mixed emotions.  Moving out is sad, but we are so thankful to this apartment for everything that it had been for us, and looking forward to what's next.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Camping with the Chius

I always feel like a kid again when I'm with my parents - safe, excited, and cared for.  My only hope is to be able to make them feel the same.  Since we had been camping so much, I asked Wes if we could take them on one of our trips, and soon enough, we went ahead and ordered two extra pairs of trekking poles, booked a last-minute group campsite at Baker Creek, prepared an ice chest full of ribs and chili ingredients, and invited my parents along for a cold, November's weekend in the wild.  Margaret and Andrew were there too, with all of their climbing gear, making it a big group hangout.  Never would we have thought that we'd all be out here together, on a random weekend in the Eastern Sierra, with our tents, cars, coolers, and layers, with Mom and Dad.  Dad took us kids on our first camping trip ever in Yellowstone National Park in 2005, and it was now our turn to return the favor.  This would be the first time he would be going camping since that trip long ago, and Mom's first time since she was in college, back in Taiwan.  It was a big deal!

After we graduated high school and went on to college, we never thought much about camping or spending extra time in the great outdoors.  But at some point, Margaret and I both found our way back to nature in some way, probably because of that old seed planted by Dad.  He had always made it a point to visit as many National Parks as possible, even if it meant that he had to pull an all-nighter driving us over state lines.  My mom also taught us to appreciate everything that the eye could see, always.  They really prioritized experiencing sensational moments over obtaining worldly possessions.  They also always took many photos, because memories are gold.

By November of 2017, when we did this trip to the Eastern Sierra, Wes and I had been camping and backpacking actively for months, and Margaret and Andrew for even longer.  It was about time that we planned something for the parents!  We were a little worried that they'd be out of their element since it had been so long, but they did great.  They even hiked with us for a decent amount.  While looking out over the lake and into the mountains, Mom declared that it felt like she was in the Alps.  I was so excited that we were experiencing this breathtaking vision all together, it was such a rare and special occasion!  The air was fresh, the sun was out, our spirits were high, and we felt really connected not only to the majestic nature all around us, but to each other.  I think that's why we all have to unplug every once in a while.

I like to think that they had a good time there, even though it was nearly freezing at night and they did a pretty hard hike partway to Treasure Lake!  I can't wait to do this again, and I hope that being with them will always have that magic un-adulting effect.  I could really use a dose of that now!